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Stop Hiding The Truth About Slaughtered Dissidents, Amnesty Tells Iran

Iranian Justice Minister Alireza Avai, was a member of so-called "death commissions" that questioned prisoners in 1988. (file photo)
Iranian Justice Minister Alireza Avai, was a member of so-called "death commissions" that questioned prisoners in 1988. (file photo)

Iranian authorities are continuing to commit crimes against humanity by concealing the fate and whereabouts of thousands of political dissidents who were secretly executed in prison 30 years ago, according to Amnesty International.

In a report published on December 4, the London-based human rights group called on the United Nations to establish an "independent, impartial and effective international mechanism" to help bring those responsible for the extrajudicial executions to justice.

Amnesty said the report, based on testimonies from 100 family members and survivors from across Iran, documents, historical archives, and memoirs, reveals the scale of the executions, which, the rights group said took place in at least 32 cities across Iran within a matter of weeks in July-September 1988.

"The fact that to this day the Iranian authorities refuse to acknowledge the mass killings, tell relatives when, how, and why their loved ones were killed and identify and return their bodies, means that the enforced disappearances are continuing today," Philip Luther, Research and Advocacy Director for the Middle East and North Africa at Amnesty International, was quoted as saying.

"This has inflicted torturous suffering on victims' families. Until Iran’s authorities come clean and publicly reveal the fate and whereabouts of the victims, these crimes against humanity are ongoing," Luther added.

The report describes how, in late July 1988, the authorities put prisons on lockdown across the country and suspended family visits without giving any reasons.

At least 5,000 political members of the Mujahedin-e Khalq Organization (MKO), leftist groups, students, and others were executed by late September, in what Amnesty International describes as "a coordinated effort to eliminate political opposition."

Some of the officials accused of being members of the so called "death commissions" that questioned prisoners, continue to hold state positions, including Iran's current Justice Minister Alireza Avai, Amnesty said.

The rights group said all individuals involved in committing and concealing the executions must be brought to justice in fair trials that exclude the death penalty.